Monday, June 23, 2014

What New "Ban the Box" Legislation Means to You


There is no doubt that having a criminal record can be an obstacle to getting hired. 

Many states, cities and counties are trying to combat this by passing or considering laws to remove the question of whether an applicant has prior criminal convictions from government job applications.  Some are even requiring private employers to ban the question, too. 

(See the latest cities and states to “ban the box” here).

And despite years of rejection, a “ban the box” bill is now poised for passage in Washington D.C.

The crux of current “Ban the Box” legislation is that by delaying Background Checks on potential employees, those with criminal convictions are not automatically excluded from consideration for employment. 

While this legislation does not prevent employers from rejecting applicants with criminal records, they would not be able to ask the question until after the first or second interview, or an offer of employment has been made.

Supporters say that “Ban the Box” is all about giving people a second chance.  The goal is to prevent employers from immediately rejecting applicants based solely on their criminal past.  By delaying the question, the prospective employee is given the chance to mitigate the circumstances of their crime and show any efforts that have been made to move forward and rehabilitate themselves.

Opponents, however, many of which are business owners, believe they should be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal past earlier in the hiring process.  

Many think that the delay is a hardship.  This is especially true for small businesses.  The added hours spent on applicants that are later proven unsuitable is both time and money.  This hits smaller companies especially hard as their resources are more limited.

While I tend to fall more on the side of “second chances” (you can see my views in “Background Checks & ‘Ban the Box’ ~ The Pendulum Swings”), the reality is that no matter whether you support or oppose this trend, “Ban the Box” is not going away any time soon.

Putting sound hiring practices in place now that take into consideration “Ban the Box” makes sense.

Companies would do well to be proactive and constantly vigilant on what the laws are in your state.  Hiring a good background check company can help!

Authored by   

I can help You navigate the ever-changing world of employment screening. Contact me at or you can reach me through my website,  My motto, “Trust but Verify”!

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